Autonomy

I strive to exist, think, and behave independently of the expectations of others. My goal in life is not to satisfy others but to do what is right. That requires me to embrace principles that may or may not be popular and act in ways that others may or may not accept. I don't believe in watering down my opinions to satisfy societal or corporate pressure.

I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.

— Emiliano Zapata

This extends to the way people and companies make products. I don't believe in letting customers dictate what direction a product should take. I don't believe in being beholden to their whims, which may change from day to day. I believe in building things are independently worthwhile, regardless of what others may think or imagine.

Nor would [the Macintosh] likely have emerged from focus groups and committees. On the day he unveiled the Macintosh, a report from Popular Science asked jobs what type of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, "Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?"

— Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

In one of our conversations, Ive was scathing about a rival’s product, after asking me not to name it: “Their value proposition was ‘Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever color you want.’ And I believe that’s abdicating your responsibility as a designer.”

— Jony Ive in the New Yorker

This way of thinking allows for reinvention and revolution - the new ideas that change our world and our lives. This approach is not bound by tradition or dogma and thus allows us to turn the "unknown unknown" into tangible things.

I believe in building things are independently worthwhile, regardless of what others may think or imagine.

It’s not a problem you’re aware of, nobody has articulated a need. But you start asking questions: what if we do this, combine it with that, would that be useful? This creates opportunities that could replace entire categories of device rather than tactically responding to an individual problem. That’s the real challenge and very exciting.

— Jony Ive

 

Authenticity

I believe that all meaningful relationships are built around authenticity. Being honest, direct, and straightforward are critical to really understanding someone. I fiercely disavow this "Seattle Freeze" - the idea of fake friendliness. It is neither polite nor fair, but rather wastes the time of all involved and makes it difficult to connect with others.

My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it.

— Steve Jobs

Authenticity is often portrayed as hurtful. "Nice" people, the thinking goes, mask their true feelings to avoid upsetting others, while "mean" people don't care how much discord they may cause. Both of these caricatures are flawed, and rest on an assumption that criticism must be delivered in a way that offends people. Indeed most of us don't know how to criticize without making it a character attack. Steve Jobs was terrible at this. He made judgments about product into judgments about the worth of human beings. This was a fatal flaw of his and one that we should not commend. It was not necessary for his success. Great leaders don't lead by fear or bullying.

There is a better way. When both participants in a dialogue are open-minded and willing to provide and listen to criticism, and agree not to deliver or interpret it as a personal attack, a process of continual improvement can happen. Many people are afraid or unwilling to do so. I recommend surrounding yourself with people who embrace healthy criticism of this variety. Don't associate with people who mask criticism with pleasantries or attack your character when they criticize your work.

Being authentic, and surrounding yourself with authentic people, means you will get more done, be more sane, and spend less time inventing euphemisms or mending unnecessary wounds.


Unity

I believe in bringing together rather than tearing apart. I believe in building bridges and aggressively pursuing common interests. I believe in holistic, end-to-end thinking and acting. I believe in a fundamental truth that transcends culture, space, and time. I believe that all religions get at the same fundamental truth; they simply manifest that truth in ways that are relevant to the people who practice that particular religion. Thus is every religion a true religion. I believe in a unity and fundamental coherence between faith and reason (more concretely, between religion and science).

This belief in unity has many practical components. For example, I believe in universal design - designing once for all use cases. This extends to user interface / user experience design (one interface and experience on all devices), as well as application design (one codebase across all platforms).

In my personal life I seek to unify the different experiences I have had and to consider everything I have learned. I think various fields, approaches, and ways of thinking are all valuable and deserve to be integrated. They contribute to a holistic, end-to-end understanding of a given topic.


Openness

Genuine human connection is a powerful force. Getting to know someone in a meaningful way requires more than mere companionship. It demands deep and intimate discussions. When someone exposes themselves fully to another human being, they are exposing themselves to incredible risk and even greater possibility.


Durability

I believe in putting the time, effort, and money toward build things that last. I believe in strategic thinking that balances short-term realities with long-term vision. I believe in big bets that require massive involvement and commitment. I don't believe in short-term cash grabs. I don't believe in gimmicks or fads.

I hate it when people call themselves "entrepreneurs" when what they're really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on.

— Steve Jobs